Principled negotiation as a tool to negotiate with local communities: the case of the Kimberley Process initiative in Ivory Coast


Numerous armed conflicts and civil wars erupted in Africa in the early 2000s that was fuelled by natural resources, especially diamonds. The West African nation of Ivory Coast has not been exempted from these conflicts, particularly with the politico-military crisis from 2002 to 2004, which resulted in the country being split in two, with a north held by the rebels and a south held by the government and an international embargo on the country’s diamond exports. The restoration of normalcy and establishment in-country of the diamond sector oversight and transparency Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) resulted in a series of negotiations between the Government of Ivory Coast (GoIC) and the local diamond-producing communities. However, the sensitivity of natural resource deals often results in their genesis from negotiations in which parties may take firm core positions but yet may need to make sacrifices to achieve an agreed settlement. This article examines how the GoIC’s use of principled negotiation as a means of negotiation assisted in achieving agreement with local communities. By analysing the entire negotiation process between the GoIC and local communities, this paper concludes that applying four identified, fundamental, principles of principled negotiation is the most effective method for resolving Ivory Coast’s complex diamond sector problems. Notwithstanding the method’s effectiveness in negotiating an agreement with local communities, this paper provides lessons for future negotiations, in Ivory Coast and beyond, informed by the challenges encountered during the process.